Saturday, April 12, 2014

Some dumplings that should go with fava beans and maybe a nice chianti...

I like the idea of dumplings in theory. They look puffy and delicious floating at the top of a steamy bowl of soup. I am almost always disappointed by them-- gluey, bland, pasty bits of sadness waterlogged and sucking the flavor out of an otherwise agreeable meal. Of course, there are exceptions, like the tiny, satisfyingly chewy rivels we used to have in homemade soup when I was little. For the most part, though, I'd rather do without.

I discovered a new type of dumpling in the "Cooking with Imagination on Your Presteline Electric Range" manual (1946). I have a feeling these would not improve my overall impression of dumplings, though:

Yes, the dumplings are made from finely chopped chicken livers with egg, butter, parsley, flour, and bread crumbs. This is another recipe that takes two bad things and presumably makes them worse together.

This recipe is also interesting because it is a story. It's not just a recipe for liver dumpling soup; it is actually a narrative of the thrifty Jane, who "saves out all the bony pieces" ("even the feet if she gets her chickens from the country"!) when she makes fried chicken and uses them to make broth. She can save the little bits of meat from the bones by refrigerating them in the broth and using that the next day to make her soup. I'm not sure how to feel about Jane. I wonder how she feels about spending her days thinking of ways to thoroughly use up a chicken carcass, but I'm also a little jealous of her having one of the old stoves with a deep-well cooker.... There's a charm and practicality to the old-fashioned ranges.

If you want to try this recipe and don't want to go to all the trouble that Jane does, remember that "When Jane has left-over rice, she uses canned bouillon and calf's liver for a soup that is almost as good as the chicken version and much easier to prepare." I'm sure you'll start that project just as soon as I do.

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